Classical 91.5

Brenda Tremblay

Classical Morning Host and Producer

While you’re sleeping, she’s thinking. 

Thinking about the best ways to wake you up.

A native of Albion, New York, NEA Fellow Brenda Tremblay bolts out of bed each weekday morning at 4:00 a.m. to present classical music on 91.5 FM, streaming at  Before she became a daily host on WXXI-FM in 2009, she tried her hand at every task in public radio, from hosting overnight blues gigs to freelancing for National Public Radio.  Her NPR reports and local documentaries earned three Gracies from the Association of Women in Radio and Television, many AP awards, and a national Gabriel Award. 

In addition to waking up super early, Brenda produces and hosts the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's radio concerts on Monday nights at 8 p.m. She also collaborates with WXXI news to cover the arts across all media services.

Outside the broadcast studio, singing is Brenda’s passion. She’s performed with choirs in Carnegie Hall, Westminster Abbey, and in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.  In Rochester, some of her best memories have been made with friends in the Rochester Oratorio Society and local chamber choirs Madrigalia and First Inversion.  Currently she serves as Music Director at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Brockport, New York.

Photo: Decca/Andrew Eccles

In this interview with the Huffington Post, Renée Fleming talks about life changes and the vitality of the art form she loves. 

“It’s critical that we have new operas,” she says. “Otherwise we become a museum.” 

She's singing in Toronto on September 21st.

Once in a blue moon I encounter a book that resonates so deeply with me that I immediately flip back to page one and start over.  That happened when I finished Run by Ann Patchett.  The first time I read for plot and the second time for language.  Months later, I’m still going back to re-read favorite passages. 

Run is about family, running, and secrets.

Eastman via Twitter

For the last two weeks on the WXXI-FM Mystery Piece, we’ve been counting down the Top Ten greatest symphonies ever written, according to a survey of 151 leading conductors by BBC Music magazine.  Here's the list:

The BBC Music Magazine top 10

Let’s call it a growth opportunity.  In 1971, only 1.4 percent of the orchestras registered in The Musicians Guide were led by women. Ten years later, that number was slightly higher; 4.3 percent of orchestras in the annual American Orchestra League Directory published by Symphony Magazine had women directors.  By 1988, the number was 56 out of 845.  That's still less than seven percent.   Today, that number is only marginally improved.

On this Primary Day, let's think about the influence of politicians on music.  This summer, President Obama made news when he released his personal playlist.  That’s no surprise.  American Presidents and their families have always influenced who and what we listen to.  George Washington loved to dance, especially the minuet.  Abe Lincoln said he couldn't live without music.  Teddy Roosevelt embraced jazz.  


There's a big, empty space in the heart of downtown Rochester.  How to fill it?   Among a thousand opinions are four concrete new proposals, officially submitted to the City of Rochester as of  last Friday.   One of them is for a new performing arts center.  The Rochester Broadway Theater League's plan calls for a 3,000 seat  performing arts center at the site.  Read more here.

Joyce DiDonato/Instagram

Fading light?  Falling leaves?   Cold winds?  Bring it!  If you’ve a mind of winter and indoor pleasures, here are five concerts to look forward to this fall.

September’s RPO season opener

Ward Stare will conduct a concert in Kodak Hall that’s as comforting as a soft, warm afghan. What’s not to love in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (one of Classical 91.5 FM listeners’ top ten favorites), a dashing overture by Ron Nelson, and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto?  Thursday September 15th and Saturday, September 17th.   

Pack your bags.  Take a weekend to explore.  There are obscure and fascinating destinations for music history geeks sprinkled throughout New York State.  I’ve touched on some of these before, but here they are, laid out for your next road trip.

Stop 1: Saranac Lake, New York, a four and a half hour drive east of Rochester.

Ooops.  The Wells Fargo financial company of Music Man fame misfired  with a print brochure suggesting smart young people should avoid careers in the arts.  Artists, actors, and musicians of all stripes fired back with snark and outrage.  Wells Fargo apologized.  Read more here.

photo: Eastman School

"At the University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music has proposed a new master of arts in music leadership.   If approved, the new degree would be offered next summer and count as a concentration for those who go on to earn an MBA from Simon."